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Monday 18 June 2012
The Guardian - Iranian negotiators have used a PowerPoint presentation to spell out their position at "intense and tough" nuclear talks with major powers in Moscow, but the new techniques could not disguise the wide gap between Iran's aspirations and the international community's demands for them to curb their steadily growing nuclear programme.
During a full day of talks in a Moscow hotel, the chief Iranian negotiator, Saeed Jalili, repeatedly called for relief from international sanctions and international recognition of Iran's right to enrich uranium. He also rejected a multilateral confidence-building proposal for Iran to suspend the production of 20%-enriched uranium – widely viewed as a significant proliferation risk – shut the underground plant where much of it is made, and export its stockpile of the material.
In return for these demands – which a senior western diplomat summarised as "stop, shut and ship" – the six-nation group negotiating with Iran, comprising the US, UK, Germany, France, Russia and China, offered to provide fuel for a medical research reactor, as well as help on civilian nuclear safety and parts for civilian airliners.
Jalili rejected this offer. He called for sanctions relief in return for co-operating with the UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, and international acceptance of Iran's right to enrich uranium, something the west is refusing to grant without far greater Iranian transparency on its programme.
"We had an intense and tough exchange of views," Michael Mann, an EU spokesman speaking on behalf of all six countries, said. "They responded to our package of proposals from Baghdad but, in doing so, brought up lots of questions and well-known positions, including past grievances."
"We agreed to reflect overnight on each others' positions," Mann added.
Speaking on Iran's behalf, the deputy negotiator Ali Bagheri described the talks as "serious and constructive", and said Iran expected a response to its own demands on Tuesday.
Jalili was due to have dinner on Monday night with Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of Russia's security council, who was head of the FSB, the successor body to the KGB, for nine years. Several diplomats at the talks said that private encounter, involving a top official from the country with the closest relations with Tehran, could represent the best hope of progress in Moscow, where the talks are due to continue on Tuesday.
Asked whether the talks represented the beginning of serious bargaining, a senior western diplomat balked, saying: "No, but there was a serious exchange of positions."
"If Iranians take concrete steps we will reciprocate, but we are waiting for the concrete steps," the diplomat added.